Reasons for leaving home
Whatever your situation at home, ask yourself if it’s truly intolerable. The temptation to walk out can be hard to resist if you’ve just had another row, but is it something that can be sorted out once tempers have cooled? If so, aim to find yourself some space – even if it means staying with friends or other family members. It has to be better than turning your back on the problem (and creating a whole set of others) by leaving home completely. Of course, in cases of violence, abuse or eviction, getting out in a hurry may seem like your only option. If so, and you don’t have anywhere safe to go, here are your steps to safety.
Help with finding accommodation
Chances are you’re feeling vulnerable and confused, but you don’t have to go through this alone. There are a number of local and national agencies that can seek to house you in temporary accommodation, wherever you are in the country, at any time of day or night.
If you’re out on the streets, and don’t know where to start, make Shelter your first port of call. This UK charity is dedicated to providing support and advice on all aspects of housing and homelessness, including help in emergencies.
Know your housing rights
Once you’ve made contact, a professional housing advisor will go through your options, including your rights as a tenant if a landlord has kicked you out. They will have a list of available accommodation in your area and can advise you on what benefit you may be entitled to, including housing benefit (a contribution to the cost of your rent).
A housing advisor can also help determine what responsibility your local council has towards you. If you have absolutely nowhere to go, for example, or you’re pregnant, aged 16/17, or under 21 and you’ve been in care before, or if you have a history of mental health problems, then you may be eligible for emergency housing (a roof over your head while the council look into your situation).
Much depends on your local council’s initial decision regarding emergency housing (in Northern Ireland, these decisions are made by the Housing Executive). If you are granted a place, however, you should be allowed to stay until they’ve made their assessment. You may then be granted temporary, longer-term accommodation, or referred to another council if they can provide more effective help. Should they feel unable to help at all (perhaps if you have deliberately made yourself homeless) be sure to keep in touch with Shelter or your local housing advisor. They’ll make your welfare a priority. In the short term, they can contact night shelters or emergency hostels on your behalf, while helping you with benefit claims to get your house in order.
- Shelter's advice website for young people offers help with housing problems and a free helpline 0808 800 4444. If you're in Scotland, use http://scotland.shelter.org.uk/ instead.
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Updated on 25-Sep-2012